In the 1983 film, The Dead Zone, Christopher Walken portrays a man who comes out of a coma and finds he has both telepathic and precognitive abilities. Upon shaking hands with a Presidential candidate, Walken’s character perceives that the candidate will win the White House and will subsequently launch a nuclear attack on an enemy, only to discover, too late, that the supposed provocation was a false alarm. By then, the missiles can’t be recalled. It’s a safe bet that those who voted for the guy didn’t sign up to be incinerated, but in the end, that doesn’t matter—there’s nothing they can do.
I don’t know enough about how the U.S. military’s nuclear launch systems are set up to know if such a scenario is possible. What if the former guy had had a raging temper tantrum involving some foreign leader and had decided to deploy so-called tactical nukes? Would the armed forces leaders have complied with the orders? I’ve seen speculation on that very point, so apparently, it’s not a totally fantastical situation.
Where I’m going with this is that, the more I read about the current state of affairs in this country, the more trapped I feel. While certainly the current guy doesn’t induce quite as many nightmares as the former guy, nevertheless, the status quo hasn’t changed much in terms of foreign policy, nor is it likely to. The former guy talked about reverting to an old stature of isolationism, more or less, but it didn’t materialize in terms of troops stationed around the world. The new guy also gave lip service to ending the endless wars, but is now hedging on the May 1 timeline for withdrawal from Afghanistan. And anti-China and anti-Russia propaganda programs are increasing, rather than de-escalating. Plus ça change…
I don’t want that continual ratcheting up of our country’s aggressive posture. I don’t want the U.S. to dominate the world militarily. Nobody I know wants to see our armed forces on overseas tours forever. Rather, people would prefer to have our crumbling infrastructure repaired and replaced. Have our schools modernized and fully funded, with teachers given the supplies and equipment they need. Have enough food and affordable housing and healthcare for all. I can’t conceive that anyone, given a choice between having troops deployed in a Middle Eastern country and having a place to live, would choose the former.
And yet….here we are. The former guy and the current guy both ran on platforms that included “downsize military involvement” planks. No matter which one we selected, we got the same result, for practical purposes. Didn’t happen last time, not looking good this time.
What about the climate change crisis? The former guy denied the existence of global warming. The current guy has made a lot of noise about addressing this critical issue, but won’t support banning fracking or discontinuing oil subsidies.
Healthcare? The Orange One attempted to destroy the Affordable Care Act, that cobbled-together stopgap measure, while the new Occupant has sworn that he’d veto a Medicare for All bill if it came to his desk. Either way, the 99% loses out.
We had two viable options last November, as always. Sure, there were more than two candidates on the ballot, but no third-party contender had a chance, the way our political structure works. We had a choice between unthinkably horrible and mostly undesirable. I didn’t want that. Lots of people didn’t want that. But the Progressive guy on the Democratic side was essentially forced out of the race by the party on whose ticket he ran. That guy, who openly spoke out for massive change in favor of the 99%, who actually embraced the policies overwhelmingly favored in every poll….didn’t get to run in the general election, thanks to the people in charge of the Democrats.
So the Progressives sucked it up and made lots of noise about moving the new guy to the left, holding his feet to the fire, and somehow bringing about the miracles that will salvage the country. How’s that working for them? Some successes thus far, albeit watered-down, along with a pile of disappointments.
But no matter what anyone does, no matter how many petitions are circulated, letters written, protests mounted, polls taken, we the people are still not getting what we want. There is no security these days, in any form. Forty percent of citizens are living paycheck to paycheck; many families are one small mishap away from disaster, no matter how hard they work and how careful they are. The fossil fuel companies, Big Pharma, Big Ag, Big Insurance, dozens of other huge corporations, and worst of all, the MIC, are calling the shots. Actions are being taken in our names, day in and day out, that we never signed up for. We’re consistently given two bad choices to vie for the Oval Office, and even then, no campaign promises are kept. They say what they have to say to get elected, and then all bets are off. If voters are frustrated and cast ballots for someone else next time, it’s a matter of a new face, but the same old shell game. I don’t know what the answer is, but on my bad days, I can’t shake the feeling that there’s nothing anyone can do to stop the downward spiral. We have no say whatsoever when it comes to that launch.